‘Durian candy’ poisons hundreds in 6 Surigao del Sur towns

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – (2ND UPDATE) Hundreds of people were poisoned in at least 6 towns and a city in Surigao del Sur on Friday, July 10, after they ate durian candy, the municipality of Cagwait’s public information office (PIO) said.

According to Rogen Tabugoc of the PIO office, at least 200 people in Cagwait town alone suffered from vomiting and dizziness, and were sent to the hospital after they ate durian candy sold to them in the streets.

Tabugoc, whose own daughter was poisoned, added that the candy was sold at a cheap price. Most of the students bought candies at around 10 am, which is recess time for most schools.  

“My wife told me the town’s in chaos. There are almost no vehicles left to transport victims. My 12-year-old daughter has been sent to the hospital. They said the hospital and health centers are already full,” he added. 

He also said there have been food poisoning reports in the towns of Lianga, San Agustin, Tago, and Marihatag, and the city of Tandag.

Some of the sellers in Cagwait are already in police custody.

First hand account

According to Joelito Tidalgo, a college teacher in Surigao del Sur Polytechnic College, a man sold the durian candy inside the school.

“He asked me if I wanted to buy and I declined. I went to my room and the man left the school. He already sold much durian candy to the students before that,” Tidalgo recalled.

Some 5 minutes after he went back to his room, Tidalgo heard an announcement in the school’s loud speaker preventing students from eating the durian candy.

“They announced that a lot of students from Aras Asan Elementary School got poisoned because of the candy. After that, a lot of students were rushed to the school clinic due to stomach ache,” Tidalgo added.

Many of the students were suffering from the same symptoms recorded in the elementary schools – vomiting and dizziness. The poisoned students from SSPC were rushed to the nearby hospital, where other victims had already been admitted.

Most of the victims in Cagwait were elementary school students. In Cagwait Central Elementary School alone, at least 40 people were sent to the hospital. Students from the following schools were also affected:

In some towns, according to Jude Ramos of the Cortes DRRMO, the durian candy was given for free to children.

The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) has yet to confirm if anyone died from the suspected poisoning. The LGUs are currently investigating the incident. – Rappler.com